MATCHDAY PROGRAMME

5 players who could fill in for Mohamed Salah during Liverpool absence

Mohamed Salah will leave a vacant spot in Liverpool’s attack while leading Egypt in the Africa Cup of Nations, so who could be best placed for Jurgen Klopp to turn to?

For the second time in three seasons, AFCON will be held across January and February, though this time the absences are limited to Salah – but that still leaves big shoes to fill.

The Egyptian will be missing for four games – Liverpool’s best-case scenario at the cost of Salah’s thirst for an AFCON title – but a run to the final could see him miss a total of nine.

With the 31-year-old continuing to set world-class standards with 18 goals and eight assists so far this season, it’s no easy feat simply slotting into his vacant spot on the right wing.

But here are five players who could fill in throughout his absence, however long that may prove to be.

 

Harvey Elliott

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 16, 2023: Liverpool's goal-scorer Harvey Elliott celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With six games on the right wing this season, twice as a starter, Elliott is one of the first names that will pop to mind, he has experience of what is needed from the role.

He does not have the same pace of Salah, far from it, but he got two goals from the position last season and has shown a consistent desire to not stop running when given the chance.

He interprets the role differently to Salah, which Klopp acknowledged earlier this season.

Elliott will need to remain defensively disciplined, it is one of the underrated parts of Salah’s game that he tracks back to tackle or cut off space for the opposition.

A goal at Crystal Palace showcased his capabilities, but it will be a case of how Liverpool can best tap into his skillset to get the most out of him from the start of matches, as he’s proven invaluable off the bench.

 

Luis Diaz

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 9, 2023: Liverpool's Luis Díaz during the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It is not a role we have seen Luis Diaz in often at Liverpool, but on his injury return last season he did have a cameo there, and it is something Klopp has clearly mulled over, at the very least.

He’s right-footed, like a lot on this list, and thus it could change how Liverpool operate as Salah likes to drift inside and that gives space to Trent Alexander-Arnold to exploit – although we have not seen Diaz attack his defender and take the outside route consistently of late.

This has yet to be a prolific season for Diaz when it comes to goals or assists but who knows, maybe a change will help create a spark.

 

Dominik Szoboszlai

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 27, 2023: Liverpool's Dominik Szoboszlai celebrates after scoring the second goal during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Another midfielder who can move further forward, he has the intelligence and tactical astuteness – not to mention one hell of a right boot.

He showed as much playing for RB Leipzig, scoring eight goals and setting up five last season from the right wing.

When tasked to move into attack throughout his career it has been primarily on the left, but his reading of the game sees him thrive in attacking roles, he excels in the No. 10 for Hungary, for example.

He’s certainly one of the options if he is fit to play.

 

Diogo Jota

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, September 24, 2023: Liverpool's Diogo Jota celebrates after scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Much like Diaz, it would flip Diogo Jota from his preferred left wing, but it would not be an unfamiliar set of demands having played 23 times across his career on the right, as per Transfer Markt.

In those games – which also include going back to his Wolves and Porto days – Jota scored eight goals and supplied two assists, with his ability on both feet giving him flexibility to swap wings.

There will need to be an assessment of the bigger picture when considering his use in the role, much like Diaz, but as long as Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo also remain fit, there is versatility to tap into.

 

Cody Gakpo

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 16, 2023: Liverpool's Cody Gakpo during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Speaking of the Dutchman, we have seen him play on the left wing, as the central striker and in midfield, so why not add the right attacking role to his list?

Gakpo has done it before for PSV, albeit not frequently, but a player with his skillset and versatility will be attractive for Klopp, and he has built chemistry with plenty on the team thanks to all the roles he has been asked to play.

You feel he wouldn’t be high in the pecking order, but he is someone to at least consider.